The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Not This Time

Sounds like the Iraqis are trying to take a page from the Mogadishu playbook (via SF Chronicle):

In a scene reminiscent of Somalia, frenzied crowds dragged the burned, mutilated bodies of four American contractors through the streets of a town west of Baghdad on Wednesday and strung two of them up from a bridge after rebels ambushed their SUVs.

[ . . . ]

Residents in Fallujah said insurgents attacked the contractors with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. After the attack, a jubilant crowd of civilians, none of whom appeared to be armed, gathered to celebrate, dragging the bodies through the street and hanging two of them from the bridge. Many of those in the crowd were excited young boys who shouted slogans in front of television cameras.

Associated Press Television News pictures showed one man beating a charred corpse with a metal pole. Others tied a yellow rope to a body, hooked it to a car and dragged it down the main street of town. Two blackened and mangled corpses were hung from the green, iron bridge spanning the Euphrates River.

"The people of Fallujah hung some of the bodies on the old bridge like slaughtered sheep," resident Abdul Aziz Mohammed said. Some corpses were dismembered, he said.

Christopher over at Californian Sojourn links to one such photo (Caution: graphic photo; see generally Getty Images. Discretion is advised.)

Mogadishu, as you'll recall, took place 8 months after the first WTC attack. The images of dead Americans ultimately caused the United States to leave Somalia.

There are superficial similarities, to be sure. But that was a different time, a different president, a different United States. The WTC attack arguably did not make a lasting impression on Americans, or cause them to reassess their priorities concerning national security. The second WTC attack was markedly different.

Professor de Genova wished for "a million Mogadishus" (see here, here). He got one.

Let's see if he's right about what happens next.

Update: Ralph Peters makes some excellent points in his New York Post column:

Second, a forlorn hope remains among the terrorists that, if only they can kill enough Americans and do so as graphically as possible, Washington will lose heart and abandon the struggle. The assassins live in yesterday, both that of an over-hyped golden age of Islam and in the more recent era of President Clinton's passivity in the face of barbarism.

The terrorists are wrong. We're not quitting. But the tragic cowardice of the Spanish electorate last month encouraged civilization's enemies to believe that the West is inherently weak. They do not understand that America isn't Europe - or that even Europeans will strike back, if pressed hard enough.

[ . . . ]

Three waves of terror attacks were predictable. Our enemies study us for potential weaknesses and were bound to test us during our vast troop rotation. What we're seeing now - in Fallujah and in the re-energized roadside bombing campaign - is the first wave of attacks.

Next, we'll see a much greater wave of strikes - frantic and fanatical - as the June 30 transfer of power approaches. The enemies of Iraqi freedom, home-grown or foreign interlopers, must disrupt the return of Iraqi sovereignty. They've told their sympathizers that the United States wants to rule their country indefinitely and steal its oil. They can't afford the development of a rule-of-law democracy, however imperfect, in Iraq. Indeed, free Iraqi self-rule is their greatest enemy.

The third wave of attacks will come in the build-up to the U.S. presidential election. Our soldiers, contractors and Iraqi officials will be attacked throughout Iraq, and the terrorists will strain their resources to attack the United States itself. They hope to repeat their electoral success in Spain and imagine, wrongly, that a Democratic victory would mean that Washington would retreat from Iraq and the War on Terror.

But whoever our next president may be, America won't - and can't - quit. Politicians from both parties have a responsibility to make that unmistakably clear over the coming months.


Posted 6:35 PM by Tony


Feeling The Demographic Pinch

The Joongang Daily has a story on inter-ethnic marriages, that I found quite interesting:

In the course of a year, the number of marriages in Korea between Koreans and foreigners increased by 61 percent, the Office of Statistics said yesterday. The jump resulted from a new sysytem of counting Chinese.

Last year, 25,658 international couples married, compared with 15,913 in 2002 and 12,319 in 2000.

Three times more Korean men than women married foreign mates.


It's the last sentence that really caught my eye. Generally, the sterotype is the other way around, where Korean women marry inter-ethnically.

Why not the guys? In my experience, Koreans tend to place high importance on the family line, which is tracked down through the males. Moreover, (again, in my experience), Koreans place a high value on, for lack of a better word, racial homogeneity. Combine the two, and you get Commandment One For Korean Males: Thou Shalt Not Marry Outside The Race.

So what's the explanation?

My guess is that there's a demographic shift underway in Korea. According to Nationmaster, the current gender ratio in the 15-64 age range is 1.03 males per female. That translates into too many guys. And the problem is only going to get worse, if you take a look at the gender ratio for people under 15 (1.12 males/female). As a result, demographic pressure may translate into a shift in societal attitudes.

But, that's just a guess. If anyone else can explain it, I'd love to hear it.


Posted 5:59 PM by Tony

Friday, March 26, 2004
A (Hockey) Tale Of Two Cities

At this time last year, a Masschusetts team of Pee Wee hockey players was treated to Heather Mallick-like hospitality in Montreal (via Apr. 2, 2003 Globe and Mail)

Their bus entered downtown Montreal just as hundreds of college and university students were marching through the streets in an antiwar demonstration. Police cruisers spotted the U.S. bus and escorted it to its hotel on Sherbrooke Street as a safety precaution. A police officer urged the visitors to remain in the bus until the protest passed.

Their bus entered downtown Montreal just as hundreds of college and university students were marching through the streets in an antiwar demonstration. Police cruisers spotted the U.S. bus and escorted it to its hotel on Sherbrooke Street as a safety precaution. A police officer urged the visitors to remain in the bus until the protest passed.

[ . . . ]

That night, about a dozen families went to the Montreal Canadiens-New York Islanders game at the Montreal Bell Centre, a much-anticipated visit planned months in advance. In a gesture later condemned, the U.S. national anthem was widely booed by the crowd, leaving the visiting American children perplexed.

[ . . . ]

The visitors say anti-American comments continued when the young players faced off against the Beverly Bandits, a team from Beverly, Ont. U.S. players say the Canadians hurled insults during face-offs and at other times.

"They told us we sucked, gave us the finger and said 'Down with the U.S.A.' or 'The U.S.A. sucks," Mr. Nadeau said. At one point, a Canadian player made a disparaging remark about the United States "and the referee turned around and said, 'I agree with you.' "What stunned us was that the referee, who is supposed to be unbiased, is agreeing with the boys on the ice."


The town of Fredericton, New Brunswick decided an antidote was in order (via Montreal Gazette):
John Reilly, a Massachusetts state trooper, is not a man accustomed to crying.

Yet Reilly shed tears of joy when he and a dozen other hockey parents, plus a team of 12-year-old U.S. boys riding a bus north from Boston, arrived in New Brunswick on Tuesday to a welcome fit for royalty: Three hundred young Canadian hockey players lined the main street of St. Stephen, N.B., tapping their sticks on the pavement and chanting "U.S.A., U.S.A.," as the bus rolled into Canada.

(via Mar. 25, 2004 Globe and Mail):

Spearheaded by Brian Johnson, manager of the Canadiens, the City of Fredericton invited the Boxers here to make amends. New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord even travelled to the Massachusetts State House in Boston last week to hand-deliver invitations and team jackets to the players.

[ . . . ]

Yesterday, the kids practised twice, so they could showcase their skills to prospective coaches ahead of the game. Then they gathered and waited for their names to be called. The mock draft, 12 rounds in all, served both to boost spirits and to mix players from both countries on each team.

The U.S. team took an early 2-0 lead, but both sides then traded goals at a rapid rate. Late in the third period, the U.S. answered with two goals to take a 7-6 lead and Zach Phillips of Fredericton soon scored the winning goal, making it 8-7, with 29 seconds to play.

And what about Montreal? (via Mar. 20, 2004 Montreal Gazette):

A U.S.-born teenager carrying a U.S. flag in a multiculturalism parade was booed off stage and reduced to tears by fellow students at Wagar High School [in C?te St. Luc] on Thursday, in an apparent protest against the Iraq war.

A year ago today, the U.S. led the invasion of Iraq.

A parade of flags representing every nationality at the school - 39, this year - is an annual event at Wagar, the most ethnically diverse high school in the English Montreal School Board.

"During the parade, when the American flag (was) walked by, quite a large number of students booed, which was very upsetting to the student carrying the flag," said Juanita Meikle, a parent who is chairperson of Wagar's governing board.

The girl, a Grade 9 student, "was very upset. She was crying," Meikle said.

No other flag was jeered.

[ . . . ]

[Principal Michael] Cristofaro said Wagar is a model of tolerance.

Now, I'm aware of the dangeres of over-generalizing, but the contrast is rather striking.


Posted 5:12 PM by Tony

Thursday, March 25, 2004
New Blog Pointer

Just found hardyandtiny in seoul. The content really fills up the heretofore lacking "Hot Asian Chick Showcase" category in the blogosphere. (via Korea Life Blog, another photo-heavy expat blog)

He also has a copy of a memo in which the US Army in Korea points out the various, er, let's call them "massage parlors," off-limits to military personnel, complete with pictures of the premises and costs. I imagine this is the sort of thing that won't be in the next edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Korea.


Posted 9:07 AM by Tony

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
The Biggest Scandal You've Never Heard Of

. . . if you're not Canadian.

I mentioned Adscam last month (here, here, and here).

Basically, a government program for funding culutral events was used to slide money to certain Liberal-friendly entities (via Globe and Mail):

The sponsorship program was created in 1995 after the Quebec referendum to help raise Canada's profile in Quebec. The birth of the program is cloudy because normal government procedures were not followed. In a report released two weeks ago, the office of the Auditor-General said it could not find documents related to its creation. The Auditor-General's report also showed the government used Crown corporations to funnel millions [approximately $250 million] of dollars in commissions to a handful of Liberal-friendly advertising agencies.

Among the recipients of these monies was Via Rail, whose recenly fired president, Jean Pelletier, was a friend of former Prime Minister (and prize jackass) Jean Chretien.

The story just gets weirder (via Globe and Mail):

Myriam B?dard characterized the sponsorship program as one rife with corruption during her testimony before a Commons public accounts committee investigating the sponsorship scandal on Wednesday.

The two-time Olympic biathlon gold medalist said that during her tenure at in the marketing department at Via Rail, she was told that driver Jacques Villeneuve was secretly paid $12-million (U.S.) to wear the Canadian logo on his racing suit at the 1998 Montreal Grand Prix and that Groupaction was involved in drug trafficking.

Despite the wishes of Minister Helene Sherrer, this is hardly the sort of thing that can be considered overblown. (see Andrew Coyne for more)


Posted 5:45 PM by Tony


Blogging In Korea

The Korea Herald has an article on blogging in Korea. Which comes as no surprise, being as South Korea is one of the most wired places on Earth:

A "blog" - short for "Web log" - is a noncommercial Internet site that usually includes a personal diary, photos and links to other sites, according to Yahoo.com. Both blog owners and visitors can add information.

A growing number of young Koreans see blogging as an easy, convenient way to create a personal home page without extensive Web design skills.

Cyworld.com, a portal Web site company affiliated with SK, played a major role in introducing "blog" culture into Korea. The company provides free, unlimited blog service.

"Not only have we introduced blog service, we have successfully adapted it to the Korean younger generation," said Cyworld.com marketing executive Kim Ki-duk. "According to the recent statistics, youths aged 15-32 are the major users of our service, along with over 90 percent of women in the 19-24 age group."

The article seems to imply that Korean blogs:

1. serve only as online diaries, and nothing else; and
2. are written only by "the younger generation."

If true, then the contrast with non-Korean blogs, which can run the gamut from law to regional news to economics to stark raving lunacy, is striking.

Now let me be clear - I'm not saying that the Korean blogworld is inferior. I just think it's interesting how the blogging phenomenon manifests itself in different cultural contexts.


Posted 4:45 PM by Tony


Iraq War Photos

Found a web site that has a lot of amazing photos from last year's Iraq War. Oddly enough, the Web address is in Germany.

Below are a few representative pictures from the site. The actual pictures are over twice as big as shown here, and the shrunken versions below don't really do them justice:





Posted 4:14 PM by Tony

Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Single Issue Consequences

I've noticed that bloggers devoted to single issues sometimes let their passions get the better of them.

A recent example I noticed is a March 20, 2004 post from Angry Asian Man. He excoriates the US military's treatment of Muslim chaplain James Yee, and concludes with:

Man, this guy should get together with Wen Ho Lee and have a few beers.

He may have been so focused on the Yee issue that he may have forgotten that the Koran forbids intoxication. Oops.

Don't get me wrong - I enjoy Angry Asian Man's site, though I do think the outrage can get overwrought at times. I'm just pointing out that a single-issue focus can lead to occasional slipups.


Posted 6:37 PM by Tony

Monday, March 22, 2004
Bias? What Bias?

The SF Chronicle ran a story about yesterday's anti-Iraq policy protests. I drove across the Bay Bridge into SF yesterday, yet somehow completely missed any sort of protest-related traffic jams. Curious.

Note the sympathetic tone of the coverage:

Thousands of anti-war demonstrators marched across San Francisco on the first day of spring Saturday, joining millions around the world in the peace movement's biggest showing since the Iraq war began a year ago.

The San Francisco protest was upbeat and defiant, as many marchers who filled the streets from Dolores Park to the Civic Center said they felt reinvigorated by seeing so many kindred spirits opposed to the war. The crowd clogged thoroughfares and blocked traffic at dozens of intersections as many protesters banged drums, shouted slogans and danced in the streets.

[ . . . ]

They ["splinter groups" from the main demonstration] were met at Fifth and Market by a barricade of police officers. Cornered, the group began to mill about before drifting back west on Market Street. Police blocked their escape and began closing in. Police announced several times to the members of the crowd they would be arrested unless they moved to the sidewalk.

As officers encircled the remaining group, a handful of the protesters linked arms and charged the line of officers. In a brief but intense clash, the officers hit a number of the protesters with clubs before subduing them.


In addition to the Chronicle, a "Zombie" had also been taking pictures of the event. The comparison is rather instructive.

The first picture is from the Chronicle; the second is Zombie's:


So, what we have is someone advocating the death of American soldiers. Feh.

Again, the first is from the Chron; the second is form Zombie:



This last photo of several Korean participants made me want to reach for a bat, quite frankly:


Presumably, these Korean protestors weren't going home to some place like this:


Sinuiju Detention Center, North Korea
(via US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea / Digital Globe)


And when they get home, those Korean protesters probably don't have to deal with stuff like this (from The Hidden Gulag, by the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea):

Among the detainees [in South Sinuiju] were ten pregnant women, three of whom were in the eighth to ninth month of pregnancy. Choi [Yong Hwa, a former detainee] and two other non-pregnant women were assigned to assist these three pregnant women, who were too weak to walk alone, in walking to a military hospital outside the detention center. The woman assisted by Choi was given a laborinducing injection and shortly thereafter gave birth. While Choi watched in horror, the baby was suffocated with a wet towel in front of the mother, who passed out in distress. When the woman regained consciousness, both she and Choi were taken back to the detention center. The two other non-pregnant women who assisted the two other pregnant detainees told Choi that those newborns were also suffocated in front of the mothers. The explanation provided was that "no half-Han [Chinese] babies would be tolerated."

I can't describe my opinion of these Korean participants without lapsing into profanity, so I'll just stop here.


Posted 7:31 PM by Tony


Perceptions

I was trying to figure out a way to write up particularly offensive editorial cartoon in the Hankyoreh, but Jeff in Korea does a much better job of it.

The cartoon basically shows various foreign types speculating about the current impeachment in Korea, while the parrot calls them idiots. As always, see the Marmot for more on the impeachment.

What bothered me was the perception of blacks in the cartoon. Unfortunately, this isn't atypical, at least not from my own experience.

Argh.


Posted 1:44 PM by Tony


Personals

Sometimes, even I have my moments.

I was driving with a couple friends yesterday. Somehow, the conversation turned to differences between American-born Koreans and those who immigrated afterwards. I told my friend that I felt that there were differences between the two, in terms of attitude or outlook.

"I don't mind being a 'banana'," I said, "but the term Twinkie works better for me."

"How's that?" one of my friends asked.

"Well, a Twinkie, like a banana, is yellow on the outside, and white on the inside. But it's also squishy and filled with artificial ingredients, just like me."

Both of them started laughing. My other friend asked, "and with no expiration date?"

"I prefer, 'lasts forever.'"

My friends thought that this would make a pretty good personal. Who knows? I may just give it a shot.


Posted 8:48 AM by Tony

Thursday, March 18, 2004
The Same War

Smash has been tracking what's been going on in Afghanistan in the last year, and shows why it's all the same war. Interesting reading.


Posted 10:26 AM by Tony

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Happy St. Patrick's Day

Enjoy the day. I know I plan to.

I'm not Irish, but I figure being ethnic Korean is close enough.


Posted 8:11 AM by Tony

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
UA Returns Home

Stephen Funk was released from prison this week. He's the guy who learned his Marine Reserve unit was deploying to Iraq, failed to report for duty, turned himself six weeks after his unit had deployed, and then claimed conscientious objector status. (via San Jose Mercury News; see prior posts from 4-2-2003, 4-3-2003, 4-26-2003, 9-8-2003).

His supporters had themselves a little party. If he wishes to associate with the likes of pro-North Korean International ANSWER Stalinists, it's purely up to him of course. But it bears noting that a person is known by the company he keeps.

Good job, abandoning your unit like that. Welcome back, UA.


Posted 8:12 PM by Tony


IRBan Renewal

The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board is going to go through some changes (via Globe and Mail):

Critics point out that the board is stacked with a disproportional number of Liberals, the result of an appointment process that favours political allegiance over competence.

[ . . . ]

Under the new system, the IRB chair will have much more power and will be chosen through a merit-based competition, subject to approval by a Parliamentary committee. The chair will name an advisory panel and a selection board, which will together decide which candidates get submitted to minister, and will replace the advisory board that now recommends appointments.

Tribunal candidates who pass the initial screening and a written test will be assessed by the advisory panel, made up of lawyers, academics, refugee advocates and human resources experts. Successful candidates will be interviewed by the selection board, composed of experts in immigration and refugee issues. The chairman will then offer a slate of approved candidates to the immigration minister.

The current board chairman, Jean-Guy Fleury, applauded the changes, saying that he will ensure that the tribunals are made up of members who can make fair decisions on behalf of the Canadian people.

I hope that the changes result in an IRB that knows that forcing a single father to leave his child behind and deporting that father to face certain execution in North Korea is a Bad Thing. (Song Dae Ri was ultimately allowed to stay in Canada, no thanks to the IRB. (see Globe and Mail))

I'm a little skeptical though, since Fleury, the guy doing the appointing, appears to be a holdover from the Chretien regime.


Posted 7:51 PM by Tony


The Oiiiil, Redux

One year ago, I wrote:

I guess oil was the right answer. We were just asking the wrong question.

And I linked to this Heritage Foundation study, which pointed out:

France’s largest oil company, Total Fina Elf, has negotiated extensive oil contracts to develop the Majnoon and Nahr Umar oil fields in southern Iraq. Both the Majnoon and Nahr Umar fields are estimated to contain as much as 25 percent of the country’s oil reserves. The two fields purportedly contain an estimated 26 billion barrels of oil. In 2002, the non-war price per barrel of oil was $25. Based on that average these two fields have the potential to provide a gross return near $650 billion.
[emphasis added, see below]

In January, I pointed out those who had allegedly received payments in the form of oil vouchers.

Kenneth Timmerman writes more about the TotalFinaElf contracts in the New York Post (via Instapundit):

Almost as soon as the guns went silent after the first Gulf war in 1991, French oil giants Total SA and Elf Aquitaine - who have now merged and expanded to become TotalFinaElf - sought a competitive advantage over their rivals in Iraq by negotiating exclusive production-sharing contracts with Saddam's regime that were intended to give them a stranglehold on Iraq's future oil production for decades to come.

The first of two massive deals was announced in June 1994 by then-Iraqi Oil Minister Safa al-Habobi - a well-known figure whose name had surfaced in numerous procurement schemes in the 1980s in association with the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, which supervised Saddam's chemical, biological, missile and nuclear-weapons programs.

Speaking in Vienna, al-Habobi confirmed that his government was awarding Total SA rights to the future production of the Nahr Umar oil field in southern Iraq, and that Elf was well-placed to be awarded similar terms in the Majnoon oil fields on the border with Iran.

Those two deals, which I detail in "The French Betrayal of America," would have been worth an estimated $100 billion over a seven-year period - but were conditioned on the lifting of U.N. sanctions on Iraq. Simply put, analyst Gerald Hillman told me, the French were saying: "We will help you get the sanctions lifted, and when we do that, you give us this."

The Total contract, a copy of which I obtained, was "very one-sided," says Hillman. (Hillman, a political economist and a managing partner at Trireme Investments in New York, did a detailed analysis of the contract.) An ordinary production agreement typically grants the foreign partner a maximum of 50 percent of the gross proceeds of the oil produced at the field they develop. But this deal gave Total 75 percent of the total production. "This is highly unusual," he said. Indeed, it was extortion.

But Saddam willingly agreed: He saw the Total deal, and a similar one with Elf, as the price he had to pay to secure French political support at the United Nations.

Corruption is nothing new to Elf Aquitaine, as I mentioned in December (just follow the links).

Considering the non-French party who benefited from these $100 billion contracts, and the nature of his deeds, perhaps the phrase "No Blood For Oil" is appropriate, after all.


Posted 3:40 PM by Tony


Affording To Drive

I complained a while back about not getting my war dividend.

Just be thankful you don't own a car in Korea (via Korea Times):

The Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) reported on Tuesday that gasoline prices at Seoul gas stations averaged 1,403.66 won per liter last week, up 10.27 won from a week ago.

[ . . . ]

"Price hikes at gas stations was due to a rise in Dubai oil prices triggered by unstable supply-demand situation following the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' output reduction,'' a KNOC official said.

A little currency conversion (via Yahoo Finance) gives a figure of . . .

$4.54 per gallon.

Ouch.


Posted 9:19 AM by Tony

Monday, March 15, 2004
Defenders Of Freedom

Taiwan is holding a referendum (via BBC):

Voters will be asked if they back new peace talks with Beijing and if they favour strengthening Taiwan's defences in the face of the missile threat from China.

And the mainland Communists have a history of trying to influence the vote by holding military exercises off the coast at the same time. This time is no exception (via BBC):

China has a history of flexing its military muscles just before Taiwan goes to the polls.

It has also been especially critical of Taiwan's first-ever referendum, also being held on Saturday, which Beijing views as a provocative step towards independence.

"If this week's planned exercises are as large as those China held in 1996 they will clearly amount to an attempt to intimidate Taiwan's voters," Joseph Wu, deputy secretary general to Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, told BBC News Online.

Guess who's helping the Chinese with this display of force? That's right (via Reuters):

China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland's eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing's rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections.

[ . . . ]

French President Jacques Chirac, keen to strengthen ties with China and win French business a firm footing in the rapidly growing market, sided with China in January in opposing Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's plan to hold a referendum on missile defense alongside presidential elections on March 20.

Taiwan responded by suspending high-level government exchanges with France.

China, which considers Taiwan a wayward province that must be returned to the fold, has derided the referendum as a splittist plot and some officials have warned of war.

But it's all in good fun, of course (via China People's Daily):

The Chinese navy's advanced equipment and professionalism is impressive, says a French officer aboard the visiting frigate on Monday.

Christine Allain, second in command of the French light frigate Commandant Birot [the two French ships involved are the Birot and the anti-sub destroyer LaTouche-Treville], made the remark after visiting the Chinese guided missile destroyer Harbin.

[ . . . ]

The joint naval exercises would be helpful in enhancing coordination, communication and mutual trust at sea between the two navies, said Allain.

Hat tip to Conrad, who points out:

I thought French perfidiousness had lost its ablility to shock me. I obviously underestimated the bastards.

I'm pretty shocked, myself.


Posted 6:23 PM by Tony


One Year

You know, I just realized my one year blogiversary passed by, and I totally forgot. Well, it seems weird that I've managed to find enough stuff to write about this long. Go figure.


Posted 4:45 PM by Tony


Jumping The Wrong Way On 11M

Looks like the March 11 bombing in Spain may have been an attempt to get Spain out of Iraq (via Christian Science Monitor):

It's not fully clear yet whether Al Qaeda was behind the train bombings that killed over 200, a historic event now known as "M11" (for March 11), or "11M" in Europe. But the group had targeted Spain for its support of the Iraq war. And enough clues are coming out to force European leaders to huddle for a rethink of their antiterrorism strategies - and whether to distance theirs from Mr. Bush's.

And so the prime minister-elect, Socialist Jos? Lu?s Rodr?guez Zapatero, has chosen to capitulate rather than fight, which seems uncharacteristic for the Spanish (via Washington Post):

Spain's new prime minister-elect today reiterated that Spain will withdraw its 1,300 troops from Iraq, unless the United Nations takes "charge of the situation."

Much as they took charge in the Congo, Rwanda (via CNN), and Srebenica (via WNET; Int'l Herald Tribune) I presume.

William Pfaff has it right when he says (via Int'l Herald Tribune):

Kofi Annan [who had headed the Bosinan peacekeeping operation] said in September that ''unless the Security Council is restored to its preeminent position as the sole source of legitimacy on the use of force, we are on a dangerous path to anarchy.'' He is mistaken. That was the path we were on when the United Nations failed Srebrenica.

Nations have moral existence. The ''international community'' does not. Nations remain the ultimate agents of moral conscience.

Zapatero would do well to remember that.

He would also do well to remember that John Kerry-like behavior is not going to help. Compare this (via Reuters):

"My government will maintain cordial relations with all the governments of the world, and of course with the United States," Zapatero told reporters on Monday, one day after ousting Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's Popular Party from government in a huge election upset.

With this (UK Guardian, via Allah):

This will necessarily mean forging relationships with other world leaders, though Spain's place in the world may be about to change dramatically with Mr Zapatero at the helm. He has already said he wants George Bush to lose the presidential elections, so he will have no friend there.

Thank God for the Poles and their shocking unilateralism (via Washington Post):

Jerzy M. Nowak, Poland's ambassador to NATO, said today that Poland is willing to stay in command of a stabilization force in central-south Iraq if Spain, which had been due to take charge of the division on July 1, withdraws its troops, the Reuters news agency reported.

Nowak told Reuters that Poland, which took command of the 24-nation division last September, would be prepared to stay until the end of this year but would need NATO support to do so. "If it is necessary, we will continue leading the multinational division," Nowak said. "We are prepared for that even if Spain is not able to fulfill its promise."


Update: For reactions, check out Jen, Annika, Den Beste, a somewhat contrary view from Jacob Levy, Professor Volokh, Moxie, and a warning from Virginia Postrel.


Posted 4:28 PM by Tony


Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

Got back from a weekend in Las Vegas. It's the first time I'd been there since before I'd turned 21 - let's just call it a few years, shall we? A few observations:

1. I realized that I do not, in fact, have the Asian (it's not just the Chinese) gambling gene. I gave video poker a shot, as well as several rounds of blackjack. No rush, at all.

2. There are a lot of gorgeous women in Las Vegas. A lot. It reminded me of Southern California, but perhaps more so. It was an amazing display of pulchritude - words don't really do it justice. You have to see it to believe it. I almost wept when I realized I'd be going back to the Bay Area. *

3. 70 dollars per person will get you a mojito, a glass of wine, hash browns, asparagus, creamed spinach, and a New York strip that's 12 inches x 6 inchues x 1 inch at Smith and Wollensky. Goooooood eatin'.

4. I forgot that places exist where people can actually smoke indoors. That's what comes from being from California. I don't smoke, but my clothes certainly picked up the scent.

5. Did I mention the hot chicks?

------
* Yes, I know, the Bay Area does have some good-looking women. Believe me, I know. But 1) the frequency is far, far, lower, in my opinion, and 2) men outnumber women around here, anyway.


Posted 10:12 AM by Tony

Friday, March 12, 2004
Quote Of The Day

Definitely has to be VodkaPundit, on the Islamists:

But part of me is so angry after yesterday's bombing, that all I could think was, "Isn't it time we made that American sentiment 'Live free or die' into a goddamn ultimatum?"

Classic.


Posted 10:37 AM by Tony


Legislatural Fights

Well, I guess the cynical side of me was right:


Pro-Roh Uri party member rocking blocking the vote
(from CNN)


Go check out the Marmot, Andy the Flying Yangan for more.

The last time this kind of stuff happened in Congress was when Charles Sumner got beaten with a cane in 1856. Which is a good thing (though, I can think of at least two other politicians from Massachusetts who could use a good whippin').

Korean democracy is still maturing, though it may still have a ways to go.


Posted 8:16 AM by Tony

Thursday, March 11, 2004
Faces Of Evil

If one is part of Iran's ruling theocracy, apparently, the face of evil looks a little something like this:


(via the Marmot)


A country that doesn't let in hot foreign women . . . Iran truly is part of the Axis of Evil.


Posted 1:04 PM by Tony


Symbol Susan

Some people forget where the line between protest and being on the other side is: (USA Today, via Jen Martinez):

Susan Lindauer, 41, was arrested in her hometown of Takoma Park, Md., and was to appear in court later in the day in Baltimore, authorities in New York said.

She was accused of conspiring to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and with engaging in prohibited financial transactions involving the government of Iraq.

This part of the indictment (PDF at Findlaw) caught me eye:

o. On or about June 23, 2003, SUSAN LINDAUER, a/k/a “Symbol SUSAN,” met in Baltimore, Maryland, with a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) acting in an undercover capacity as a member of the Libyan intelligence service seeking to support resistance groups in post-war Iraq (the “UC”), and discussed the need for plans and foreign resources to support these groups operating within Iraq.

p. On or about July 17, 2003, SUSAN LINDAUER, a/k/a “Symbol SUSAN,” met in Baltimore, Maryland, with the UC and discussed the need for plans and foreign resources to support resistance groups operating within Iraq.

q. On or about August 6, 2003, SUSAN LINDAUER, a/k/a “Symbol SUSAN,” pursuant to instructions received from the UC, left documents in a designated location in Takoma Park, Maryland.

r. On or about August 21, 2003, SUSAN LINDAUER, a/k/a “Symbol SUSAN,” pursuant to instructions received from the UC, left documents in a designated location in Takoma Park, Maryland.

s. From in or about June 2003, up to and including in or about February 2004, SUSAN LINDAUER, a/k/a “Symbol SUSAN,” regularly communicated via email with the UC.

So, if all the allegations are true, what we have is a United States citizen talking about killing American troops with someone she believes is a foreign agent, and acting in the belief that she would be helping to kill American troops. If the allegations are true, this would be even more clear-cut of a case than John Walker Lindh was.

I wonder what those Indymedia/DU types make of this?

Update: Here's some of her work history (via ABC News):

Lindauer worked at Fortune, U.S. News & World Report and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before beginning her career as a political publicist.

She worked for Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. in 1993 and then Rep. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in 1994 before joining the office of former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun as press secretary in 1996. From March to May 2002, she worked for Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.

Rep. Lofgren has her own statement.


Posted 8:55 AM by Tony

Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Extraterritorial Reach

Scrappleface, who coined the term "Axis of Weasels,", launches another barb (via Volokh):

Just hours after the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council approved that nation's new interim constitution, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it on the grounds that it provides "excessive power to the ignorant masses."

Compare that with the dissent of Ninth Circuit Judge Kozinski in Silveira v. Lockyer (which I posted in full here):

The majority falls prey to the delusion—popular in some circles—that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll.

It almost seems like a logical extension of Ninth Circuit jurisprudence.


Posted 7:22 PM by Tony


Historical Twists Of Fate

I find this rather incongruous, all things considered (via Korea Times):

South Korea will deploy some of the latest types of Russian tanks and infantry combat vehicles near the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas by the end of this year, military officials said on Tuesday.

"We’ve decided to deploy some thirty T-80U tanks and another thirty BMP-3 infantry combat vehicles in frontline units located in central and eastern sections of the border in Kangwon Province,"a Defense Ministry official said.

They are part of the Russian weapons that Seoul purchased to offset some of the $1.47-billion loan, which was extended to the former Soviet Union in 1991.

It is the first time that Russian-made military equipment will be adopted as a main weapon of the ROK Army, which is largely relying on U.S.-made weapons.

The T-80U tanks and BMP-3 vehicles, which are two to three generations ahead of North Korea’s T-62 and BMP-1, are expected to help deter possible aggression by North Korean ground troops.

The irony is, another official added, that North Korea would face the latest types of weapons which were made by its Cold War ally Russia and which it doesn’t possess.

It does seem a tad odd, though, given that Korea manufactures its own tanks. Go figure.


Posted 9:20 AM by Tony


Changes

Who's up for an impeachment? (via Chosun Ilbo):

For the first time in Korean constitutional history, a bill to impeach the president has been introduced at the National Assembly.

The bill was signed by 108 members of the Grand National Party (GNP) and 51 members of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and submitted at 3:49 p.m. The GNP and MDP have 144 and 62 members respectively.

[ . . . ]

The bill accuses President Roh Moo-hyun of "forgetting his duties as the head of state who must protect the Constitution and the laws" by "continuing to illegally campaign for a political party." Roh has "displayed an extra-constitutional and extra-judicial dictatorial attitude" by "saying he will openly support a specific party" despite having been found by the National Election Commission to be in violation of the Election Law. Finally, it says it is "clear he no longer has the qualifications and ability to run the country" because he "denies legalism" and because "power-related corruption," and that therefore he must be impeached "to defend the Constitution, for the happiness of the people, and the future of the nation."

This should be interesting. My personal opinion of Roh is pretty low, but then again, I'm not a South Korean voter. I suppose that, in one sense, it's a sign of how democracy in Korea has matured. The more cynical part of me, though, is wondering when the fistfights in the National Assembly are going to start up.


Posted 8:58 AM by Tony

Friday, March 05, 2004
Connect The Dots

Colby points out this diagram of globalization versus gender equality.

I suspect most of the anti-free trade types would like countries to be in the upper left quadrant, but real life seems to work a tad differently. (Though I find it hard to believe that Turkey ranks below the Saudis in treatment of women.)


Posted 7:58 AM by Tony

Thursday, March 04, 2004
Rolling Back The Nanny State

At least, just a little (via SF Chronicle):

In January, the [San Mateo] City Council imposed a temporary ban on private booths in karaoke clubs. Police said prostitution, drug use and gambling were flourishing behind the locked doors of the dimly lit singing rooms from San Francisco to Sacramento.

The ban stemmed from residents' complaints about fights spilling out of a karaoke club.

Police Chief Susan Manheimer defended the ban on talk radio, but callers said she and white City Council members were insensitive to a popular Asian cultural institution. Karaoke fans from Seattle to Hong Kong sent angry e-mails and letters.

On Monday, San Mateo officials relented, allowing construction of private karaoke booths. However, the rooms must include windows, bright lighting and doors that do not lock.

City Attorney Shawn Mason said the ban was lifted because of the overwhelming support for karaoke in San Mateo County, where one in four residents is of Asian descent. The rooms are popular for birthday parties and family reunions.

[ . . . ]

In Vietnam, karaoke bars have been targeted in a national crackdown on drugs. In Hong Kong, officials say karaoke clubs help spread the illegal drug ketamine, or Special K. Cambodian officials worry about the spread of AIDS among prostitutes at karaoke clubs.

So for those Koreans in the Bay Area who had lamented, for being unable to have the complete patriotic date experience, rejoice!

As for the ketamine - sure they call it "Special K," but does it help you lose weight? I should probably refer to the blogosphere's resident HK expert on this one.


Posted 4:54 PM by Tony


The Classics In Action

[Ne]Roh (or his duly appointed underling) fiddled while Rome burned.

Just thought I'd throw that one out there. (see here for reference)


Posted 4:25 PM by Tony


The Next Front In The War On Terror

It seems that an emerging threat in the war will be maritime. While Great Britain has been historically known as a maritime power, few people really appreciate how much of America's history has been tied to the high seas.

The problem is huge (via AIM/Reuters):

Coast Guard spokeswoman Jolie Shifflet said on Thursday that "Operation Drydock," [a 14 month investigation by the Coast Guard and FBI] prompted by national security concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had also led to the arrest of about a dozen others whose active arrest warrants for crimes from minor misdemeanors to attempted murder had long gone unnoticed.

The Coast Guard said it investigated the records of more than 200,000 people who hold U.S. merchant mariner credentials

[ . . . ]

Shipping experts have long said the U.S. maritime industry is vulnerable to attack. They say porous borders, global logistics chains, limited funds and the trade-off between security and commerce make fail-safe protection impossible.

Almost 7 million containers and about 50 percent of all imports arrive in the 361 U.S. ports each year.


And new tactics may be on the horizon (via Korea Herald):

A nightmare in the making is a potential lash-up between seagoing pirates and organized terrorists in Southeast Asia, and it has Asian and American security officials sweating.

A senior Singaporean says he worries about a "floating bomb." Another Singaporean warns against "terrorism camouflaged as piracy." A report from Australia points to "profound and enduring negative impacts on national economic and security interests." A senior U.S. military officer calls for "an awareness of the maritime domain to match the picture we have of our international airspace."

[ . . . ]

The South China Sea is the focal point of fear. More than half of the world's shipping passes through the Malacca, Sunda and Lombok Straits and across the South China Sea. The economies of South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, plus that of the West Coast of the U.S., would be immediately damaged by a disruption of shipping through the South China Sea.

[ . . . ]

A hint of what might happen occurred in late February when the terrorist gang in the southern Philippines, Abu Sayyaf, claimed to have exploded a bomb aboard a ferry, killing at least one person and leaving up to 100 others missing. Abu Sayyaf has also struck from the sea to kidnap tourists from the Philippines and hold them for ransom.

Apart from the terrorist threat, piracy has been spreading, especially in Southeast Asia. The International Maritime Bureau, which tracks episodes of piracy from a center in Malaysia, reported recently that such incidents rose to 445 in 2003, an increase from 370 the year before.

Of those, 121 were reported in waters around Indonesia, which lies alongside the Strait of Malacca and through which pass the Sunda and Lombok Straits. The second largest number, 58, was reported in harbors and waters near Bangladesh. The maritime bureau said pirates had become more violent and more crews had been abducted for ransom.

Modern piracy is more of a problem than people think, as the IMB's weekly piracy report shows. When combined with terrorism, let's just say the potential consequences leave me concerned.


Posted 3:14 PM by Tony


What Hobgoblins?

First, it's Representative Corrine Brown complaining the administration was not intervening in Haiti fast enough.

Now this (Daily Trojan article by way of Instapundit):

Along with the sea of anti-Bush posters, the [anti-Bush] protesters chanted their messages from a megaphone with sayings such as, "George Bush — we know you — your daddy was a killer too," and "Hands off Haiti."

[emphasis added]

Can't these people make up their minds?

Apparently, the distinction between a wise and foolish inconsistency is lost upon them.


Posted 2:44 PM by Tony


Unconscioius Biases

There's a story in the San Francisco Chronicle that caught me eye:

San Francisco has long been the birthplace of a quirky assortment of magazines, from counterculture pioneer Rolling Stone to tech bibles like Wired. One of the newest titles to emerge, with its first issue on newsstands now, is also one of the most unlikely: American Thunder, a monthly devoted to the NASCAR lifestyle.

Backed by the founder of the tech firm PayPal and edited by a former Washington policy wonk, American Thunder's offices in the city's Financial District feel about a million miles from NASCAR's traditional Southern strongholds.

That seems a bit curious, having a NASCAR-oriented magazine being fronted from San Francisco, but okay.

This next portion, though, was rather irritating:

Despite the bedrock conservatism, devotees are more sophisticated and spread out than coastal elites may assume. More than 100,000 people flocked to NASCAR's race in June at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma County.

[emphasis added]

Note the contrast - the passage implies that sophisticated people are, by definition, not conservative. It seems to me that there's an unconscious bias going on here.


Posted 10:18 AM by Tony

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Truth In Advertising

I was at the park this past weekend, and saw this girl. The tattoo on her shoulder caught my eye.

It was the Chinese character for "woman."

It's not like I don't appreciate the heads-up, but I was pretty much able to figure that one out for myself.


Posted 5:28 PM by Tony


Where Are My War Dividends?

I just paid 29 dollars for almost 12 gallons of high-octane gasoline.

If the war was about the oil, where the heck is my cheap gas?

Update: Victor Davis Hanson makes the same point in the National Review.


Posted 1:18 PM by Tony

Monday, March 01, 2004
Deconstructing Brown

No, not that Brown.

This Brown (via Miami Herald):

[Representative Corinne] Brown sat directly across the table from Noriega and yelled into a microphone. Her comments sent a hush over the hourlong meeting, which was attended by about 30 people, including several members of Congress and Bush administration officials.

Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man," according to three participants.

Brown then told him "you all look alike to me," the participants said.

Kelly points out the falsity of Brown's statement, and Gennie adds her memorable comments to the issue.

My own initial reaction, I'll admit, was similar to the Gweilo on Minnie Driver.

As for Rep. Brown's not-really-an-apology (see Volokh Conspiracy; Instapundit), she justifies herself on the grounds of alleged racist policies in Haiti (see also Washington Post) In her own words:

I sincerely did not mean to offend Secretary Noriega or anyone in the room. Rather, my comments, as they relate to “white men,” were aimed at the policies of the Bush administration as they pertain to Haiti, which I do consider to be racist.

Those policies are formulated by people including Colin Powell and Condoleeze Rice, neither of whom are white. Still offensive.

There are already 400 Marines in Haiti. Incidentally, it bears noting that Kerry is again being inconsistent, arguing that the President waited too long here, where there's less of a national security interest than where we "rushed to war." (via SF Chronicle; see also the unilateralism issue at Instapundit). But what are they there to do? This record's been played before. Take a look at this chart, detailing US intervention in Latin America: 1891, 1914-1934, and 1994. And nothing ever changes.

Ms. Brown's criticism stems from the administration's refusal to prop up Aristide's government. But Aristide proved himself to be just another would-be dictator, and used up whatever goodwill he once had.

As for myself, I have no problem, ideological or otherwise, with sending troops. But there has to be a more structured plan than to simply "Do Something"; otherwise, we guarantee nothing more than an endless cycle of repeated interventions.

Nation-building takes time, and money.

Is Ms. Brown willing to accept the presence of American troops in Haiti, and scenes like this for the next several years?


US Marines, presential palace, Port-au-Prince
Yahoo/Reuters


Given Ms. Brown's unwillingness to spend money "to rebuild a foreign nation", I entertain doubts as whether her statements Haiti reflects serious concern, or domestic politics.


Posted 4:12 PM by Tony


Pissing Off Your Allies

The Marmot is a lot more charitably inclined concerning South Korean president Roh's recent speech, but I'm certainly not.

Here's a portion of his speech (via Globe and Mail):

Giving a nationally televised address marking Korea's March 1, 1919, uprising against Japanese colonial rule, Mr. Roh dismissed criticism that his foreign policy has fuelled anti-Americanism among young South Koreans.

“Let's not talk about whether we are pro-American or anti-American,” Mr. Roh said to rousing applause. “Whether we are pro-U.S. or anti-U.S. cannot be the yardstick to assess ourselves.”

“Step by step, we should strengthen our independence and build our strength as an independent nation.”

Mr. Roh's call to lessen reliance on the United States in foreign policy and security against North Korea came two days after six-nation talks ended in Beijing without major breakthroughs on how to end a dispute over the communist North's nuclear weapons programs.

Mr. Roh hailed a recent U.S.-South Korea agreement to pull U.S. troops out of the Yongsan district of central Seoul, reminding people that Yongsan has been occupied by foreign forces for more than a century and calling the area “a symbol of foreign intervention, invasion and dependence.”

So Roh dismisses the anti-Americanism issue, while implying that the American garrison at Yongson is "a symbol of foreign intervention, invasion, and dependence." That's a pretty good job of ticking off one's putative allies.

Why do I feel that Roh has been taking notes from the North Koreans?

North Korea also marked the 1919 uprising on Monday, calling on all Koreans to “struggle for independence against foreign forces” to achieve reunification.

“All the Koreans should turn out as one in a just and patriotic struggle to frustrate the U.S. and Japanese aggression forces' reckless moves to invade Korea in a do-or-die spirit,” said Pyongyang's government-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun.

Sounds awfully similar to me.


Posted 9:25 AM by Tony


An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at orblog-at-yahoo.com.

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